Could & should do better is the report card on the Giants

The Giants get a much needed win over the old enemy Nottingham

The Giants had to bounce back to maintain any creditability for their league title quest. Particularly if they had any desire to lift a trophy this season. Belfast’s win in ‘Lace City’ gave Nottingham five straight losses in League play. This left the Giants and Panthers tied for fourth place with Belfast holding a game in hand.

 

Period-2-Giants-vs-Blaze-194-450x235

Brian Stewart seems to save his best games for the contests against the Giants

It was a must win situation for the Stena Line Belfast Giants after Saturday night’s away 1-4 loss in Coventry. Brian Stewart (the Blaze’s excellent goalie) was able once again to defeat the Giants. He made an excellent game thwarting denial of most Giants’ attempts to score.

Blair Riley #1

Blair Riley (25) seems to have found his goal scoring on the Giants top lin

Brandon Benedict Chris Higgins Goal

Brandon (Benny) Benedict (26) always gives his best and scoresgoals as well

Belfast’s Sunday, 4-2 away win against the Panthers saw scorers Blair Riley, Brandon Benedict, Jim Vandermeer and Michael Forney in action. Giants’ net-minder Jackson Whistle faced 26 shots in an important Elite League win that moves the Belfast side into joint fourth place.

Alex Foster #1Alex Foster (23) the former Toronto Marlies Captain was on the injury  list 

The Giants were without the services of former Marlies Alex Foster through injury. This did not stop them opening the scoring and taking advantage of their first powerplay opportunity of the game.

Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan - exhibition game

Blair Riley (25) show his scoring ability

Blair Riley slotted the puck into the back of the Panthers’ net, just after the midway part of the opening period assisted by Jim Vandermeer and Michael Forney.

Brandon BenedictBrandon Benedict (26) always battles hard 

Doubling the score saw Brandon Benedict netting the Giants’ second of the game with another powerplay goal, assisted by David Rutherford, as Brian McGrattan sat in the Panthers’ Penalty Box.

Nottingham finally got on the score sheet with their opening score through Alex Nikiforuk netted early in the second period. He was assisted by Matt Carter. This brought the hosts to within one of the Giants. However in a little over four minutes later the Giants had restored the two-goal advantage as Jim Vandermeer scored, assisted by Jeff Mason and Steve Saviano.

jim-vandermeer-9-vrs-panthersGiants Jim Vandermeer  (9) scores for Giants against the Panthers 

Once again Nottingham made it a ‘one goal game’ again this time early in the third period. Panthers’ Captain Brad Moran scored on the powerplay after the Referee had sent James Desmarais to the penalty box for a ‘holding’ call.

Giants James Desmaraus (79)James Desmarais (79) in the Sinbin for the Giants 

Belfast killed off a 5-on-3 Panthers’ powerplay mid-way through the final period and continued to frustrate the Panthers’ squad

Giants Mike Forney (14) on the backhandMichael Forney (14) scores into the Panthers open net to secure the Giants victory 

The Panthers outshot the Giants 11-6 in the final period, however Belfast stood strong and completed an important away win at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. The Giants rounded off the win with Giants’ top scorer Michael Forney’s empty net goal in the dying seconds of the game, assisted by Steve Saviano, with the Panthers having pulled their netminder.

corey bench 2

Panthers long standing head coach Corey Neilson

Following the game Cory Neilson, Panthers’ Head Coach commented, ”This is a run of losses we have to stop. Our squad is playing hard but things are certainly not going our way.

The schedule has not helped but that’s down to me, which I take full responsibility for. Our out skaters are gripping their stick too hard to get a break but it will come. I have all next week in training to breath new belief in them. They certain are working hard to see the changes and with a full week of practice ahead of us I’m sure the change will come”.

Jackson Whistle #2

Jackson Whistle (1) Man Of the Match for the Giants against the Panthers

 So the final score of 4-2 for the Giants keeps Belfast in the hunt for a League trophy following the vital away victory over their old rivals the Nottingham Panthers. Giants’ ‘Man of the Match’ being was their goalie, this time #1 Jackson Whistle.

 The frustrating part of the weekend’s games this time occurred in Coventry with the Giants’ 1-4 loss to the Blaze. That defeat was their first in Coventry this season following two wins in as many months.

Giants Chris Higgins  (68)

 

Chris Higgins (68) was the Giants only goal scorer

It was Chris Higgins’ goal with six minutes remaining being the only real ray of hope with the Coventry Blaze rounding off the win with an empty net goal in the final minute.

Belfast, rotating their ‘puck stoppers’ began the game with Stephen Murphy in net. And David Rutherford came back to the lineup following a lengthy spell out through injury.

Coventry opened the scoring late in the period as Josh Godfrey’s shot squeezed into the Giants’ net with just forty-nine seconds of the first period remaining. The opening goal came on the powerplay after the referee controversially sent Adam Keefe to the penalty box 11 seconds earlier for a ‘slashing’ call.

Ross Venus doubled the Blaze tally just minutes into the second period, assisted by Stewart and Jorgenson. They kept the Giants at bay during three Belfast power plays in the second period thanks in part to Brian Stewart in net.

Chris Higgins #2

Chris Higgins knows how to score shown here wearing number (27) shirt netting on the short side

 Then they fashioned their third goal, through Garrett Klotz late in the game. However that triggered a Belfast reply through Chris Higgins who finished off a skillful move following a well-timed pass from the returning Rutherford.

murphyweb-450x235Stephan Murphy (31) Man of the Match for the Giants against the Blaze

With Belfast pushing for another late score their effort only resulted in Ross Venus’ grabbing of his second of the game with an empty net. This finished the game with a 1-4 loss for the Giants in Coventry. Their ’ ‘Man of the Match’ was awarded to #31 Stephen Murphy.

If the Giants are to be real Elite League Title contenders they have to address their consistency level. There are teams they should be able to beat. However the growing gap of ten points between the Giants and the Cardiff Devils, runaway leaders in the Elite League has to be addressed much sooner rather than later.

The Sheffield Steelers are also dark horses in the Elite League title race. They too may prove troublesome in the games coming up towards and around the festive period.

A rephrasing of last week’s comments  reads, “The Giants must, and should do better with greater consistency”.

Rob Stewart and presenter Wayne Hardman with Rob's certificate to UK Ice Hockey Hall of Fame

Rob Stewart &  Wayne Hardman with Rob’s certificate to UK Ice Hockey Hall of Fame

Written by Wayne Hardman

 Elite Ice Hockey League Standings 2016/17
After Games of 6/11/16    
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Cardiff

14

8

3

1

2

23

1 loss

Fife

11

7

0

0

4

14

3 wins

Sheffield

9

6

1

0

2

14

1 loss

Nottingham

12

6

0

1

5

13

5 losses

Belfast

11

4

2

1

4

13

1 win

Manchester

11

5

0

2

4

12

2 wins

Edinburgh

11

3

1

1

6

9

3 losses

Coventry

12

3

1

1

7

9

1 win

Braehead

12

4

0

0

8

8

1 win

Dundee

11

3

0

1

7

7

1 win

 Erhardt Conference Standings 2016-2017
After games of 6/11/16
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Belfast

10

3

2

1

4

11

1 win

Coventry

8

2

1

1

4

7

1 win

Cardiff

5

2

1

1

1

7

2 wins

Nottingham

4

2

0

1

1

5

2 losses

Sheffield

3

2

0

0

1

4

1 win

 Challenge Cup Group A Standings 2016/17
After games of 23/10/16
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Belfast *

7

4

1

1

1

11

2 wins
Dundee *

8

4

1

1

2

11

1 loss
Braehead *

8

2

1

3

2

9

2 wins
Edinburgh *

7

2

2

0

3

8

1 win
Fife

8

1

1

1

5

5

6 losses

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